When The CW first announced a potential Supernatural spin-off in the works, it was immediately clear that the network was looking for a way to keep the series' passionate fanbase engaged now that both Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki are in their 30s and married with children. They're basically The CW's equivalent of octogenarians. The fact that Supernatural has survived for so long (the series is currently wrapping up Season 9, and it's already been renewed for Season 10) is a testament to not only the actors, but the fans, who've proven themselves to be very loud bunch of wonderfully crazy people. Said fans have helped the series survive (and escape from!) the Friday-night death slot, and they continue to help The CW bring in record numbers on Tuesdays. So it only makes sense that the network would try to build off that momentum.
Here at TV.com, we've been pretty vocal about our own uncertainy regarding this spin-off in recent months. From its less-than-desirable title to its silly "Godfather with fangs" premise to the fact that the original series only has three regular cast members (including Misha Collins), none of whom will be a permanent presence in the spin-off, all the signs have pointed to "maybe this isn't such a great idea." But now that we've seen the backdoor pilot, it's time to take a closer look at whether Supernatural: Bloodlines actually has the potential to be a decent show. So I sat down with my fellow TV.com staffer Tim Surette to tackle some of our most burning questions—let's hear your own answers in the comments!
Is Bloodlines a viable spin-off?
Kaitlin: In theory, a Supernatural spin-off had potential. The series could essentially reboot with a younger cast and still (hopefully) maintain its audience. But that's not what happened. Bloodlines feels like a rip-off of its network sibling The Originals, but with a far less charming cast and backstories that've seemingly been taped together from previously rejected storylines. Supernatural would've done better to spin off the still-relatively-new Men of Letters arc (with appearances by Henry Winchester and a pre-Abbadon Alaina Huffman), or created a series based on already established young hunters like Krissy, but instead it's saddled us with a monster mafia series featuring an entirely new cast. So the new series shares nothing with the original except a name and this backdoor pilot, basically. Why bother calling it a spin-off at all? Plus: How bad are Sam and Dean at their jobs if they had no idea there were monster families running Chicago?
Tim: Hey, Sam and Dean are BUSY! Didn't you see that underground bar with all the monsters in it? That is super hard to find if you don't know the right maitre'd! But yeah, you'd think that Sam and Dean would've at least caught a whiff of that by now. What irks me about the Bloodlines spin-off is exactly what you said—it feels like a poorly conceived cash grab leeching off an established property (though I guess that's true for most spin-offs). What first attracted me to the Supernatural universe is its vastness—the open road! The monsters of the week! Vancouver standing in for Florida, Texas, AND California!—and Bloodlines won't be tapping into that at all. I agree with what MaryAnn said in her review about Bloodlines's all-in-one-place setting providing the option to show the split between a hunter's professional and personal lives, but the pilot killed Ennis's girlfriend in the first minutes (by throwing her into a store shutter LOL). Wasted opportunity. So no we're left with the same tired themes of revenge, dead(?) parents, and murdered ladyfriends. And while we're at it, let's all admit that Chicago being run by five monster families is colossally stupid, and since that's the Bloodlines plot, I don't see it being interesting. Frankly, I don't see it getting picked up, either.
Does Bloodlines solve Supernatural's infamous "woman problem"?
Tim: Ahhh, the age-old question criticizing a teen-targeted CW show about two hunky men with daddy issues who chase spooks across the country, and one that will automatically be asked of Bloodlines. The answer is "kinda sorta," in that Bloodlines has main female characters who aren't Season 3's Bela and Ruby (not that Bela and Ruby were particularly great characters themselves). Margo, the shapeshifter who's taking over the Lassiter gang, and Violet, the werewolf who's engaged in forbidden love with David *gag*, fall in line with Supernatural's history of putting women into one of two categories: tough, bitchy, and mean, or sweet, innocent, and in need of rescue. So I don't see a lot of progress there. Sure, it early—and let's face it, Bloodlines has character problems no matter their gender—but ultimately, I don't expect the show to do anything too differently on this front.
Kaitlin: To be honest, I think Bloodlines has an even bigger "woman problem" than Supernatural does. The lack of women on Supernatural has never really bothered me (I know, I'm a shame to my entire gender), but that's because the series' on-the-road set-up naturally doesn't allow for many recurring characters. And because it's The CW! I'm not watching for the plot, guys. I'm watching to see two good-looking male models make quippy remarks after slicing off a vampire's head. And because I really love the soundtrack. And because Dean/food is my OTP. I know my thinking is horribly flawed and that Gloria Steinem might jump out from the bushes and shame me, but if the women don't exist, at least the writers can't screw them up. Bloodlines has stereotyped women right out of the gate by portraying them either as helpless victims, power-hungry bitches, or secondary citizens with no backbones when it comes to douchey older brothers. This honestly makes me more embarrassed and more angry than I ever was when Supernatural ignored them altogether.
Who's poised to be Bloodlines' breakout character?
Kaitlin: I think we can all agree that Lucien Laviscount is not leading-man material, despite being billed as such and having the coolest name I've ever heard. He looks far too young to play Ennis, and he comes off as way too green. I know we all complain about actors playing characters who are way younger than they are, but sometimes age really helps make a character feel believable. And yes, Sam and Dean were young when Supernatural premiered, but that was explained away by the family business. They were raised in the hunting life, which meant they had experience and weren't running around Chicago pretending to be something they weren't. Ennis found out about monsters, like, two minutes ago. The kid hadn't even processed that development before joining the fight, which is ridiculous.
In contrast, David (Nathaniel Buzolic) is a shapeshifter who grew up in the world of things that go bump in the night, so he's already got an advantage. He also seems very quippy, which is always a plus when dealing with "serious" matters like stopping monster wars before they begin.
Tim: When Ennis told Tamara that he brought her to the ferry stop because that's where they met in 8th grade, I thought, "Oh, you mean two years ago?" That's how young he looks. But I didn't think anyone really stood out, and the only time I really perked up was when Jared and Jensen stepped onto the scene. The whole episode felt a little "community theater" to me; the acting skills were lacking all around, and it's almost as if Bloodlines is a CW parody, with its focus on looks over talent. Can I say that no one from this show is ever going to break out, and that at best, these kids can look forward to mediocre careers full of hopping between various CW shows? I take that back, the older actor who played the professor that David shapeshifted into was pretty good. Maybe Bloodlines should focus on him, or maybe he could be The CW's superhero! But, hmmm, if I had to pick someone, I guess I'd choose Buzolic because he seems like he could be James Wolk's younger brother. And I know how you love James Wolk!
Kaitlin: If I had my way, I'd put James Wolk on The CW in a heartbeat. HELLO, SHIRTLESS SCENES.
So we both didn't like it the backdoor pilot. Is there any way Bloodlines can be salvaged?
Tim: Look, I don't even know if it can be fixed, so I'll just make some stuff up on the fly here. The episode did a piss-poor job of explaining any real history behind the family feuds or what their involvement in the city really is. Are the families running the city together? How much do they actually control? Did a werewolf create deepdish pizza? How do vampires attend daytime Cubs games? How did this flimsy monster treaty get signed in Chicago but nowhere else? These questions need to be addressed, because right now Bloodlines feels like monster high school with cliques that don't like each other. If the series can somehow manage to run parallel to what happens in Supernatural's upcoming tenth season with each series affecting the other, that might be interesting. But if it's alone on its own island, it's going to suck. In its current state, Supernatural: Bloodlines is exactly what The CW doesn't need right now.
Kaitlin: It's no secret I've been against this spin-off since Day One, and this backdoor pilot only confirmed my suspicions. It's bad. I've never felt so much second-hand embarrassment before. And what's worse is that it feels like a slap in the face to long-time Supernatural fans who've weathered the post-Eric Kripke/Leviathan era and are enjoying the series' recent resurgence. I don't think Bloodlines is worth the effort, for the very reasons you just mentioned. What's more, it'll be a real shame if The CW cancels something like The Carrie Diaries or The Tomorrow People just to put this garbage on the air. Please, CW, stop trying to make Bloodlines happen. It's not going to happen.
AIRED ON 5/25/2016
Season 11 : Episode 23